Comcast pledges $1B to connect 50M low-income Americans

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Comcast pledges $1B to connect 50M low-income Americans

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Comcast plans to invest $ 1 billion over the next 10 years to further bridge the digital divide, provide digital skills training, grants, and free services and laptops. The goal is to attract 50 million students and low-income individuals through digital literacy programs over the decade.

To mark the 10th anniversary of its Internet Essentials program, Comcast announced that since 2011, more than 10 million people in America have broadband internet connected at home. The vast majority of them weren’t connected before signing up.

The move is a huge step up from recent commitments. After writing a story on Comcast back in February that donated $ 3.5 million in donations, I saw a lot of criticism on social media that this wasn’t enough, even as part of a larger $ 40 million commitment U.S. dollar.

Comcast’s $ 1 billion pledge includes investments in a number of critical areas, including additional support for the ongoing Lift Zone initiative, which will provide safe, WiFi-enabled student and adult rooms in more than 1,000 community centers nationwide by the end of 2021. Connection to be established. new laptop and computer donations; Grants to nonprofit organizations to create opportunities for low-income Americans, particularly in the media, technology, and entrepreneurship; and continued investment in the company’s pioneering Internet Essentials program.

The company estimates these new commitments will affect up to 50 million Americans over the next 10 years. Comcast estimates that in 2021 alone, students will be able to take more than 25 million hours of distance learning to fill the “homework gap” at the hundreds of Lift Zone locations that have opened or are about to open.

Above: Comcast Internet Essentials giveaway for Northeast High School on Thursday, August 27, 2020 in Philadelphia.

Photo credit: (Joy Asico / Comcast 2020)

“Ten years is a remarkable milestone that represents an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with our incredible community partners across the country,” said Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, in a statement. “Together we have been able to connect millions of people to the power of the internet at home and the endless opportunity, education, growth and discovery that it offers. Today we return to that mission to ensure that the next generation of students in America have the tools, resources, and skills they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world. “

The move was greeted with applause from Marc Morial of the National Urban League, Rebecca DeHart of Fair Count and Brent Wilkes of the Hispanic Federation.

In addition to tracking the total number of connections that Internet Essentials has provided, the 10-year progress report also highlights other key metrics about the program. Comcast increased the program’s Internet speed six times from 1.5Mbps in 2011 to 50Mbps today without increasing the program’s price, which remained at $ 9.95 / month.

The company launched its Lift Zones program, which aims to connect more than 1,000 community centers with free WiFi by the end of 2021. It developed an Internet Essentials partnership program that has signed hundreds of schools, school districts, and other organizations that have partnered to connect tens of thousands of students to the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Comcast offered 60 days of free internet service to every new Internet Essentials customer who went online during the coronavirus outbreak. Comcast has expanded the number of languages ​​that Internet Essentials call center agents can use to speak more than 240 languages, as well as American Sign Language, to ensure language barriers don’t prevent people from applying or getting online.

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